PASTOR COLUMN - Spiritual strongholds call for spiritual WMDs

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In international politics, the term "WMD" stands for Weapons of Mass Destruction. But the WMDs I want to talk about stands for Weapons of Mighty Demolition, because the Bible tells us that God's weapons are mighty for the demolishing of strongholds.

Many people have never heard of "spiritual strongholds," and many don't even know there's a battle going on - and if they do, they're not sure where it's taking place.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells Christians, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." If we want to have victory over spiritual strongholds we must first define what they are:

"Stronghold" means a "fortress" or an "outpost." We might think of it as an ancient castle or fortress. But, for our purposes today, a stronghold is an illegal outpost the enemy of your soul, Satan, has established from which he repeatedly attacks a person at his or her point of weakness

If you are a Christian, your life has been occupied by Jesus. However, it's possible that Satan has constructed a fortress in your mind from which he repeatedly attacks you. John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" describes Satan targeting people to kill our joy, steal our blessings, and destroy our effectiveness.

Strongholds are patterns of faulty thinking that become entrenched in the mind. Knowing that our minds are the battlefields for arguments and pretensions setting themselves up against the knowledge of God, we must "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

There are all kinds of strongholds, both personal and societal. Racism is a social stronghold. It's based on the sinful, faulty argument that there are some races superior to others. Many Christians have even embraced the false pretension of racism, which God's Word clearly denies.

In America, we have a 24/7 onslaught of false morality. Television, movies, and the Internet try to convince us that any kind of sexual behavior is acceptable, as long as "no one is hurt." They are also telling us if we believe marriage is between a husband and a wife and sex should only be shared between a husband and wife, then we're old-fashioned and behind the times. There are social strongholds all around us. But there are many personal spiritual strongholds that need to be identified as well.

The second step to victory over your strongholds is to identify what they are. Sometimes we can be confused as to what might be a stronghold for us, so here's a list of possible ones, from A-Z: Anger; Bitterness; Compulsive behavior; Despair; Eating disorders; Fear; Greed; Hypocrisy; Impatience; a Judgmental spirit; Keeping grudges; Legalism; Materialism; Need for approval; Obsessive behavior; Pornography; a Quarrelsome spirit; Revenge; Self-pity; Temper issues; an Unforgiving spirit; a Violent nature; Worry, Xenophobia (that's fear of strangers, but any phobia can be a stronghold.); Yoga (the spiritual side); and Zeal that is misplaced.

That list isn't exhaustive. There are as many possible strongholds as the wicked creativity of Satan can devise. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit there are areas in our lives where we seem to fail over and over. The desire to live right is there, but it seems as if someone evil is perched on a high wall and like a sniper, he keeps taking pot shots at us when it comes to those areas. If there is some weakness, or recurring sin in our lives, we should consider that it might be a spiritual stronghold. Coming to the realization that a stronghold exists, is good, because only when we identify our target can we prepare to do battle against it!

The next step toward demolishing the stronghold is to cut off its supply lines. The Apostle Paul says, in 2 Timothy 2:22, "Flee evil desires!" That means that sometimes, the best thing to do is to run away from temptation. Romans 13:14 says, "Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." That simply means that we should stay away from people and places where it's easy for us to fall into sin.

If our stronghold is alcohol addiction, obviously this means we shouldn't hang out where everybody is drinking. If it is Internet pornography, then install some filters or accountability software on the computer. Those are just two examples of how to cut off the supply lines to our stronghold.

Next week, I'll discuss other ways to pull down the spiritual strongholds in our lives.

The Rev. Tim Bruner is pastor of New Beginnings Chapel. Call him at 509-527-3385 or email newbeginninsgchapel.@yahoo.com. To submit a column, call Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or email catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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